PENANG BRIDGE RUN
2006 - HALF MARATHON by Jamie
RETURN OF PENANG
I'm writing this after some considerable toil this morning.
My legs are tight and a little sore but it could've
worse. At least I get to put in nearly 2 hours' worth
of sleep this afternoon. The Penang Bridge Run (PBR)
has that effect on you. It has to be the earliest starting
road race in the country. The Marathon kicks off at
4:30am and the Half (22.3K in this case) starts at 5:30am.
So you really have to be a hardened creature to be still
standing post-race afternoon.
The trip up to my birthplace the day before was smooth. The
anticipated traffic nightmare didn't materialize, much to
our relief. Some of my friends had already left KL on Friday
night - I suspect because of the gastronomic lure of the Northern
state. Only when I stopped to refuel at the Bukit Gantang
stop did I realize that one of my credit cards were missing
from my wallet. After calling the Bank to cancel it, I spent
the remaining part of the journey fretting and irritated about
my carelessness. I must have neglected from collecting the
card on Friday night. At least there were no unauthorized
transactions since the loss.
I managed to grab some pasta lunch at Gurney Plaza while
catching up with my brother (who was down to run the Half
as well). Then I popped into the GNC outlet and was surprised
to see that they stocked GU gel. I'm curious to try it out.
At a price of RM8 a sachet, it's very expensive. After that
it was back to the house to catch a nap and at about 5pm I
joined some of the gang at Swatow Lane for some real Penang
food. Of the large group anticipated, only Justin and Jeanne,
Adam, Chin and I made it. Ronnie had bailed out unwilling
to incur the wrath of his sister - eat with her or risk being
eaten! Nevertheless Justin assaulted the hawker fares and
wolfed down whatever they dished out. The bowl-to-human ratio
was high. I wanted to record the feasting but it was then
did my camera decided to call it quits. The CCD kaput for
the second time and this time it's no longer warrantied.
It's turning into a trip of attrition. This year's PBR was
to be the swansong race of my excellent 2005 Pegasus. Unfortunately
my credit card and my camera had decided to join the list.
After a dinner of home-cooked food, it was lights out. My
son thankfully decided to call it a day too, which meant that
all of us could have a good rest.
I set my alarm for 3:50am and was out in a jiffy. Everything
has been laid out the night before, so there was little I
needed to do except to get to as near to the start at USM
as possible. Major access roads leading to the place has been
closed as early as 3am for the marathoners and with the narrow
Penang roads and countless cars, it can be difficult to navigate
and search for a parking spot. I settled for one about 10
minutes' walk away. Nearing the main USM gate, someone shouted
at me and turning I saw my running friends sitting on the
road, grinning away. It was nice to see familiar faces in
the sea of humans. A quick survey showed that most are recreational
participants. Meanwhile the marathoners passed by us on the
other side of the road.
Before long we were let into the campus ground and made our
way to the field towards another exit gate where we again
waited. Finally the crowd applauded which meant that we could
exit the campus and head towards the starting line. I walked
and told him that hopefully it won't turn out into a running
start for us. Soon enough, the crowd starting easing up around
us and started running. True to our fears, the race had started
and we were still some 200 metres from the starting line!
We didn't hear the bang of the gun! Thus began our scramble
to make up for lost ground. Justin stormed off to catch up
with the front runners while I too pick up my own pace. I
didn't even notice the well-known VIP who did the flagging
off, but I did say "Hi" to Runwitme.
Shuffling at a brisk pace (too brisk in fact), I passed Dinesh
just before we entered onto the bridge but was soon overtaken
(who would finish in an excellent time). There was quite a
strong head-wind blowing which made proceedings rather challenging
especially near the mid-span. It wasn't too fun in the other
parts too since the bridge authorities had erected 6 ½
feet dividers. That meant we couldn't see the opposite side
and the returning runners and marathoners. This was a bummer
but my spirits were lifted whenever I chanced upon the marathoners.
I was envious yet inspired of those guys but I had to play
the pragmatic card - with no training, it would've been suicide
for me to attempt the full distance!
It was turning out to be a little boring for me as I crank
out a reasonably quick pace. I reached mid-span in 30 minutes,
which meant that I ran at a sub 5:15 pace. I hit the Prai-side
water station in 1:01. I would later pay the price of that
folly. I'd been running steadily but what hit me, besides
the head-wind was the humidity (the wind wasn't that cooling)
and the extreme thirst! I was so darn thirsty no matter how
many cups of water I gulped down. I even grabbed a full bottle
of ice-cold water but still I wasn't satiated. There was sufficient
water provided but no isotonics.
The return trip was fine up to the 17K mark where I had to
alternate slow jogs and running. Eventually, even that deteriorated
into running and walking! Up until that point running a sub-2
hour race was a possibility but my endurance was hardly up
to par. I limped to a 2:11.31 finish (per marathon.com
pace chart, 5:53 pace) for one of my worst attempts in this
race. After mulling it over for awhile, I was satisfied with
my performance since I met my downgraded target of 2:15 finish.
The afternoon was spent napping and later on feasting on the
Next events: Putrajaya Half and Mizuno 10K, both in